Students hold banners reading “Femicide is state murder” and “We want ourselves alive” during a demonstration against femicide and violence against women, in Milan, Italy, on 22 November 2023, following the murder of Giulia Cecchettin, CLAUDIA GRECO / REUTERS
A face haunts Italy. Smiling, serene in photographs which were personal and which now float on all the screens of the country, it belongs to a murdered woman, Giulia Cecchettin. At the age of 22, this student about to graduate was stabbed to death on November 11 by her former companion, a young man of the same age, in the parking lot of an industrial zone in the suburbs of Padua. A week later, his body was found near an artificial pond and the fugitive killer arrested on a German road.
The case first appeared to the Italians as a singular news item due to the youth of the victim and her alleged assassin, and the familiarly ordinary character of the middle-class background from which they came. The search operations and the hunt for the suspect were followed hour by hour by the media, which made it the main subject of the moment. Quickly, however, revelations about the behavior of Giulia Cecchettin’s ex-partner, possessive and manipulative, shed light on the beginnings of a feminicide announced and never prevented, the 106th of the year in Italy and the first to raise national awareness.
“There will be a before and an after. Italy is no longer the same since Giulia’s feminicide, says Giorgia Serughetti, a feminist philosopher involved in the issue of gender violence. For the first time, thanks to the victim’s family, the entire country accepted that this murder was not an isolated act but that it was part of a system. »
A new political word
In fact, in the days following the discovery of the body, the language of the news gives way to a new political voice, carried by Giulia’s older sister, Elena, who decides to transform her mourning into a platform. In a letter published by the Corriere della Sera, a nationally distributed Milanese daily, then in her public interventions, she affirms that her sister’s murderer is not a monster and that the killers who are usually described as such “do not are not sick, [mais] are the healthy sons of patriarchy.”
December 5, 2023 in Padua (Italy), during the funeral of Giulia Cecchettin, a student killed by her ex-boyfriend. ANDREA PATTARO / AFP
For the first time, the notion is being discussed, commented on, questioned everywhere, from the pages of newspapers to the most popular television sets, on social networks, by personalities from the worlds of entertainment or sport as well as in families and in couples. The government is passing new prevention measures. The Ministry of Education decrees a minute of silence in memory of Giulia Cecchettin in schools, students declare a “minute of noise” to express their anger.
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